The United Auto Workers said it plans to resume bargaining after launching its first simultaneous strikes at General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler parent Stellantis, with effects of the limited shutdown starting to spread on Friday.
The most ambitious U.S. industrial labor action in decades has halted production at three plants producing the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet Colorado, along with other popular models.By Friday afternoon a ripple effect was felt.
“Our production system is highly interconnected, which means the UAW’s targeted strike strategy will have knock-on effects for facilities that are not directly targeted for a work stoppage,” Ford (F.N) said in a statement.
It told 600 workers who are not striking not come to work on Friday and GM (GM.N) told some 2,000 workers at a Kansas car plant that their factory likely would be shut down next week for lack of parts, stemming from a nearby plant being struck.At a rally on Friday afternoon and at picket lines during the day, union members protested loudly and took special aim at a two-tiered wage system that left new hires without the pay or benefits of seasoned hands. That was unfair and favored investors over workers, they said.
“We’re not going to wreck the economy. The truth is we are going to wreck the billionaire economy,” said UAW President Shawn Fain.The union is demanding a bigger share of profits, shorter work weeks, restoration of defined benefit pensions and stronger job security as automakers shift to electric vehicles.
UAW vice president Chuck Browning, who is leading talks with Ford, told a rally of hundreds of UAW workers in downtown Detroit on Friday afternoon that recent talks have made “good progress, but we have far to go.” U.S. President Joe Biden, who faces re-election next year, called for the auto companies to reward workers just as executives’ salaries have risen. “The companies have made some significant offers but I believe they should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts,” he said.
Striking workers said “tier two” employees can make only half the hourly wages of senior UAW workers and get worse benefits.
“That’s the biggest thing I hear in our plant: we were built on equal pay for equal work,” said Bruce Baumhower, the UAW president for the local including the striking Stellantis (STLAM.MI), Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.
Some two-tier systems were set in place during bankruptcies more than a decade ago.
The starting wage for tier two workers of $15.78 now is on par with fast food restaurants and has not changed since it was set 14 years ago, he said.
“Fourteen years later, our workers are still in bankruptcy,” he added.